What a welcome and needed message was spoken this winter when we heard the call for “unity” repeated again and again. 

Truly, in our families, our neighborhoods, our cities, our country and especially in our beloved churches, we do need unity!  Division and antagonism only bring us further apart and rip at the fabric of our relationships and communities.  And sadly, when society fractures, those who suffer the most are usually the most vulnerable—ble - thethe poor, the old and the young.

But as we are witnessing, unity can be elusive and certainly requires more than just rhetoric. 

Let us all recall that it was our Lord who prayed to His Father during his famous Last Supper that we might all “be one” as he was one with His Father.  If it was difficult for those 12 apostles to get through the night unified, how much more of a challenge might it be for us in today’s world!

But unity is the prayer of our Lord and it is the cry of our world.  While the apostles and the Holy women stumbled and prayed through those days following the Resurrection, finally – at Pentecost – the Holy Spirit came in a powerful way and those same slow-minded apostles were transformed by God’s Spirit to unify under one message and one Spirit and one Gospel.  The world hasn’t been the same since. 

As spiritual leaders we look upon this great City and we see the same Spirit at work in our own midst.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring unity to the Body of Christ, especially for the sake of the Gospel.  As young people look to the future- –will  will they see a Church that is fractured in the same way that the world is?  Or will they see people from different Christian faith traditions bonding together in fraternal love, prayer and service.  What if we offered the future leaders of our churches the unifying experience of Pentecost right here and right now?

It could happen. 

We call these efforts “ecumenical.”  That term comes from its Greek origins “oikos” which translates household.  In essence – it’s the idea that we’re all under the same roof so we might as well get along and work together.  One such ecumenical movement for young people is Young Life.  The mission of Young Life to introduce adolescents to the love of Jesus Christ and help them mature in their faith has been around for over 75 years.  They’ve grown into over 100 countries and reach over 2 million teenagers a year.  The call on Young Life is to bring us together under the common purpose of reaching our young people with the Gospel.  As leaders here in New York City, we are excited to work to build our own churches alongside Young Life and others like them because above all, we want the glory of God revealed in the Body of Christ. 

Young Life’s incarnational approach of seeking out young people and building relationships with them “on their turf” reminds us of our Lord’s humility and His accompaniment of each of us along our journey of faith.  When Young Life’s founder famously said, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel” he was talking about the universal attraction of the person of Jesus Christ.  It’s that same Jesus, our Lord who is at the center of all of our unified efforts. 

In 2021, at this Pentecost, if there is any hope for unity – whether it be in the country, the church or your home – that hope rests squarely on Jesus.  Let’s answer his prayer this season and grow together in faith and love.

Reverend A.R. Bernard
Christian Cultural Center

Reverend Tim Keller
Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York


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